There are nights when a Guinness seems like a good idea. And there is nothing in the world that goes so well with a Guinness than colcannon cakes.
Colcannon is a traditional Irish food – a mixture of mash potato and cabbage. Slightly fancier; add scallion and parsley. For all out perfection? Add shards of crispy bacon.
Served with a poached egg, this is a pretty heartening supper.
But there is one thing better than a plate of colcannon to eat with a Guinness. And that involves crossing colcannon with Boxty (a smooth potato cake) to make colcannon cakes, fried in foaming golden butter.
My Grandmother was a firm believer in potato cakes when I was growing up. Both in their unadulterated and mixed in with vegetable forms. She’d eyeball flour into the potato mixture, until she could roll out the dough, then she would cut off vaguely triangular shapes with a knife and drop them into the frying pan as she went along. She was a one woman production line. Out of the pan, into my waiting mouth.
Sometimes I make small cakes for a party – they can be made in advance and baked in a 400 oven for about 10 mins to warm through. I brush each one with butter just before serving. And hand round lots of napkins.
(makes about 8 ice-cream scoop cakes, I’d reckon on 2 per person with a poached egg as a main course, and I’d make enough for seconds, but with a drink, I’d make them smaller, tbsp sized and get about 16)800g potatoes 300g cabbage 3 scallions (spring onions) diced finely ¼ cup parsley (chopped roughly) ½ cup bacon chopped into lardons 1 cup of flour 2 tbsp butter (at least) Salt and pepper Vegetable oil for frying
- Peel and chop the potatoes, then rinse in cold water to get rid of some of the starch. Put in a pan, cover with cold water, salt well, then boil for about 20 minutes (depending on the size of the chunks) until tender
- While the potatoes are cooking, shred the cabbage finely and steam over the potatoes for 8 mins (or boil in a separate pan then drain well
- Fry the bacon. Pat dry on a paper towel
- Mix the chopped scallion, the bacon and the cabbage into the mashed potato – you have colcannon!
Now to turn it into cakes: (You should have something in the region of 3 cups of colcannon.)
- Add the cup of flour to the colcannon and mix well
- Chill the mixture for 15 mins or so to make it easier to shape (if it’s very wet, add more flour until the mixture feels stiff and shapeable)
- Use an ice cream scoop (or a spoon) to ball out the mixture, then flatten each ball to make a disk
- Fry in butter with a splash of oil to stop it burning for about 3 – 4 minutes per side until golden
- Keep warm in the oven while you fry the rest of the mixture
- Serve with a poached egg for utter perfection
- Colcannon is delicious served with stew, or with some sausages and a dollup of mustard
If you can make that you can make this:
- Leave out the cabbage and add cooked flaked salmon to make fish cakes
- Add ½ tsp of cumin, coriander and some fresh chopped mint to take these potato cakes in a more Indian direction